Earth Friend: Grounding or Suffocating?

Dear Vicki: Last fall I moved back to my hometown after a ten-year absence and reconnected with an old friend from my high school days. I remember Becca as very caring and considerate, someone who was willing to help out a lot, but she’s really overdoing things now. Under the pretense of helping me get settled, Becca calls or stops by way too often for my taste. I feel suffocated and want to know how I can tell her to back off. I actually look forward to going to work (I’m an attorney) since she doesn’t call me there. I’m pretty sure I’m a Metal, and I really just want to cut things off with Becca, but I don’t want to be unkind. How do I handle this? Signed, Suffocating

Dear Suffocating: It sounds like Becca is an Earth who is genuinely trying to help you get settled after your move. She is doing what comes naturally to her, too, because Earths are wired to help with change. Their energy actually grounds the chaotic energy of transitions. This means that Earths can help stabilize almost any shift, good or bad. Hopefully you moved back to your hometown for a good reason, but change, even positive change, can be challenging. Earth energy helps facilitate adaptation to change, so in that way, having Becca around after your move is a blessing.

Given your reaction to Becca and the fact that you’re an attorney, it’s likely that you are a Metal. As a Metal, you and Becca relate via the Nurturing Cycle, with her Earth feeding your Metal. In proper doses, this should feel good to you. Earths care about people being comfortable and most people appreciate help when relocating. However, in the name of caring about someone, it’s not hard for an Earth to slip into a place that looks and feels more like interfering than assisting. An out of balanced Earth can lose sight of the appropriate amount of support to offer someone and when this happens, their constant attempts to help can come across as smothering, especially to Metals who value their solitude. Given your reaction to Becca’s apparent desire to make you her new project, it seems that’s where you are now.

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Water Wants to Change the World

Dear Vicki: I am a primary Water, secondary Wood having relationship troubles the world. Everything feels so harsh out there and getting worse. Everywhere I go I encounter people who are aggressive, bullying, and/or controlling. It must be me attracting them, right? But why? The world is meant to be easy going, peaceful, loving, and full of people pulling together. That’s what all the elements want, isn’t it? But that sure isn’t happening. My Water would like to hide under the covers and never come out, but my Wood says that won’t get me anywhere. What is out of balance?  Can I change the world around me? Signed: Mrs. Worn Down and Exhausted 

Dear Mrs. Worn Down: I love your statement that the Five Elements model wants everyone to pull together and get along. That is wonderful, and true! But pulling together and getting along might not always look easy going, peaceful, and loving to everyone. It depends on the elemental filters through which we view the actions of others. In fact, what looks to you like aggression or bullying might be seen as an act of “tough love” to someone else. And what seems easy going and peaceful to you might seem controlling to someone else. It all depends on our elemental wiring and the wiring of the people with whom we relate. Remember that within the Five Elements model there are three possible kinds of relationships. We can relate via the Nurturing Cycle, via the Controlling Cycle, or with someone who is the same element as we are.

Nurturing Cycle relationships often do feel nurturing, as well as easy going, peaceful, and loving. On the other hand, Controlling Cycle relationships usually won’t feel that way, even thought there’s just as much love in these relationships. Controlling Cycle love often looks and feels more like tough love. As the name implies, these relationships can feel controlling, with some aggression and even bullying thrown in. What it feels like relating to someone who is the same primary element will depend on what element both people have as their primary. Relationships between two Earths will be very different from relationships between two Woods or two Fires. The kind of relationship we are in will affect how we perceive everything.

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Winter Solstice and the Five Elements

Dear Vicki: The Winter Solstice is approaching and I’m dreading it as the start of winter. The dark and cold make me very unhappy. But my sister (a writer) loves December: The darker and colder, the better for her. I think she’s crazy, but how can we be so different when we’re just one year apart? Could this have something to do with our elements? I don’t even know what element I am. Signed: Dreading Winter

Dear Dreading: Winter Solstice does herald the start of winter in the northern hemisphere; December, January and February are usually the coldest, darkest months here. But within the Five Elements model, Winter Solstice represents a pause in the constant cycling between light and dark. December 21 is the shortest day of the year and the longest night. Beginning the next day, the nights shorten and the days lengthen. So if you hate the dark, Winter Solstice is good news for you because beginning December 22, the days get longer. But the cold? Well, that’s around for several more months.

To answer your question, how we respond to a time of year absolutely can have to do with our element, especially since each element has a seasonal affiliation. On the surface of things, it seems logical that an element would resonate with their own season, and that can be true. But it isn’t always so straightforward. If someone’s primary element is unbalanced, they may not do well with their own season and may really need what another season has to offer. Let’s look at how this might work and perhaps you will recognize yourself.

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Skipping the Holidays?

Dear Vicki: It’s been a tough year for me in many ways and the whole idea of creating the holidays my family has come to expect depresses me. But the minute I decide to cut back on buying gifts, I feel guilty. On top of that, even though my children have families of their own, when I mentioned not baking Christmas cookies, they were shocked and now I’m worried they’ll be too disappointed. I’m taking care of my own mother and working full time, so I just don’t have the energy or joy in me to do the whole holiday thing. I’m relatively new the Five Elements, but think I could be an Earth. Is there an easy way to tell my family that I want to skip the holidays this year? Signed: Tired in Tennessee

Dear Tired: I can promise that you’re not alone in your desire to skip the holidays. I’ve heard from many people – mostly women – who have expressed similar sentiments. And it’s understandable. In the US, the holidays have become a behemoth commercial event perpetuated by a retail industry brilliant at pushing all of our “make it perfect for those you love” buttons. Somehow, we seem to have bought into the idea that bigger and better gifts equate to greater love. But deep inside, we know that isn’t true. So why does it exert such a hold on many of us? It won’t surprise you to hear that I believe there’s a Five Elements reason we often go overboard with our celebrations this time of year.

As readers of this blog have heard me say time and again, the dynamics of the Five Elements model are all about obtaining and maintaining balance. Within the model, the Five Elements interact in ways that guarantee more energy will be provided if an element is deficient, and energy will be removed if an element is in a place of excess. And it works perfectly because the whole purpose of the model is to maintain a balanced state of optimal functioning. The model doesn’t decide to go crazy one month a year and overdo everything in the name of love, power, or profits. But if it did, the dynamics are there to automatically bring things back to balance.

We humans do have a tendency to go crazy around the holidays, usually in the name of love. For centuries, gift giving has been a primary expression of love and esteem. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s actually part of our Five Elements make-up. Sharing with others is an expression of the Earth element. Earth is also where home, family, food, and deep, lasting friendships sit. Sounds like the holidays, right? And those clever advertising people figured out decades ago that if they tied all of these things together during the holiday season, they create a very powerful message. Nothing tugs at our heartstrings more than the idea of sharing time, gifts, and meals with those we love during the holidays. And again, there’s nothing wrong with the idea. What is wrong is that the expression of this idea has become very unbalanced, mostly because our western cultures are yang-based patriarchies. Yang energy believes that more is always better than less. So in a patriarchal culture, we have come to “believe” that doing/sharing/giving more means loving more. And I think that’s where you’re getting tripped up. Honestly, that’s where we all get tripped up. We’re pretty much all celebrating the holidays from a place of imbalance and it’s taking us down. But we don’t need to go down; we can bring balance back. Clearly not for our whole culture, at least not right away, but certainly for our families and friends.

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Softening Metal Husband’s Structure Around Schedules

Dear Vicki: I need help with my marriage. Sam and I have been married for 22 years and have two daughters in college. Five years ago we started our own business and it has been very stressful trying to grow it to profitability. There’s been lots of fighting, arguing, and aloneness these last few years, but never much making up. Starting this business seems to have highlighted our problems and I’m not sure what to do. I’m just learning about the Five Elements, but I think I’m primarily Earth. I also see a fair amount of Wood in me, and some Water. Sam is Metal; very, very Metal. He works all the time and never wants to focus on us. I don’t have enough Fire to lure him away from work or his obsession with structure and schedules, but I think he had some Fire once. When we met, we had so much fun and used to laugh a lot; it was something I loved about him. What do I need to focus on to help my marriage? Build my Wood?  I’m so tired of not being supported. I know I need to reconnect with the female relationships I let slide once we started our business, but I’d like to help my marriage, too. What can I do? Signed: Feeling Alone

Dear Feeling Alone: Running a family business is a lot like having another child; it can take everything you have to make it successful. My husband and I ran a business together for several years, so I totally understand what you are going through. As you have found, the business can become the primary focus of everything you do, leaving little time to keep up with other relationships. Sadly, this also means there is less time to do what is necessary to help keep a marriage strong.

At a very intuitive level, you have grasped what needs to be done: you need to help yourself first, then you can help your marriage. As an Earth, strong and lasting connections are of utmost importance to you. Family is everything, certainly more important than business success. Your Wood will want the personal accomplishment, of course, but your primary Earth will care much more about the connections you have with family and close friends. But for Sam as a Metal, business success will matter as much as, if not more than, marriage and family. Unlike Woods, who see success as a reflection of their value as a person, Metals see success as an indication that they are wise and understand the ways of the world. It’s a subtle difference, but an important one. Also, Woods see the future and believe they have all the time in the world. With that comes the belief that if this business isn’t successful, perhaps the next one will be. Metals, who sit at the end of the Five Elements cycle, see the past and know that they are quite literally running out of time. Structuring that time is a Metal’s way of assuring the time is used wisely. Sam may perceive this business as his only chance to prove himself, so will put his all into it. And remember, unlike Earth, Metals are just fine alone. In fact, many Metals prefer being alone. But if they are going to be with anyone, they will usually partner with an Earth. And that is the silver lining in your situation.

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